Merkel sees burqa as religious freedom but backs limited ban

Chancellor Angela Merkel spoke out on Wednesday against the idea of a complete ban in Germany on the full-face veil worn by Muslim women, saying that wearing it was part of religious freedom.

Merkel told an international parliamentary conference in Berlin that the full-face veil, such as the burqa and niqab, were however "a major obstacle to integration."

"Against this background, we have begun making precise plans on the question of the full-face veil for action in areas where it is not necessary," the chancellor said, pointing to public administrative offices or in courts.

State and federal interior ministers belonging to Merkel's conservative Christian Democrats are preparing legislation on the full-face veil.

They have said that being able to see a person's face was essential in public service, driving vehicles, in kindergartens, schools, universities, in courtrooms as well as during controls for passports and at demonstrations.

In her speech, Merkel also stressed that the fears expressed by Germany's Jewish community about antisemitism among the refugees that have arrived in the nation over the last year have to be taken very seriously.

Many refugees come from countries with limited religious freedom, Merkel told her audience.

"Unfortunately, in their homeland there is also anti-Semitism and a hatred of Israel," she said.

Last update: Wed, 14/09/2016 - 21:25

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